December’s Excerpts – Donald Richardson’s ReUNIONS

Cover of ReUNIONS by Donald Richardson. Cover is mostly blank, with the sketch of a man with his back slightly turned toward us. His posture is relaxed; his hands are in his pockets, his sleeves rolled up, and he appears to be reflecting on his life. A signature of the artist, Bob Callahan, is prominently figured beside the man. TEXT reads: ReUNIONS: New and Selected Poems by Donald Richardson.

This month, we’re bringing you a holiday edition of our featured monthly excerpts with selections from Donald Richardson’s ReUNIONS! Enjoy these three poems, selected by the poet himself!


Christmas, 1968

After hours of drunken sledding late
that snow-covered Christmas night
then back again in the warm house
after shedding our coats
we looked around to find one blond head
missing. We went back out to look and
my sister’s big husband found him pissed and
passed out in a snow drift just above the barns
between some huge boxwoods deep in snow
on his way up the serpentine walk to the big house
(he surely would have died right there)
and saved him to spend the better part
of the next forty years or so
still missing, drunk or passed out
to die at 55 on the coast of Maine
somewhere. . .
but there was never
any better place, softer, quieter
than that deep pure white snow late
Christmas night of 1968.


I knownamalot

I knownamalot to whitely quietly dream
of us sledding the huge hill behind Tacaro
on a quite drunk Christmas Eve
now almost 50 years ago.
I couldn’t see the snow;
it kept melting in my eyes,
in my hands, my frozen tears
in my head. It has never melted from
back there in 1968 December 24
and the last Christmas
we would see all of us together
in it blindly racing down the big hill,
the biggest we all might see
through the snow gone to
yesterday or Yesterday’s (a friend’s bar)
to somewhere we would know
only when we got there,
and other hills, other snows, other bars
would find us incomplete
alive and dead all the years since
that particular miracle just melted
before our eyes ever understood
the miracle we were inside of
that was almost all ours
and always would be.


There Are Two Sides

Every river
like every argument
has two sides and
what you need
to understand is
what lies between,
how deep it is,
how strong the current is
how far can you swim.


ReUNIONS can be ordered directly from BrickHouse Books. Follow our blog, or join us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates and future monthly excerpts!

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Featured Excerpt: Poems from Adrian Koesters’ Three Days with the Long Moon

Cover image of THREE DAYS WITH THE LONG MOON, a collection of poems by Adrian Koesters. A full moon shines over silhouetted treetops.This month, we’re taking a peak inside Adrian Koesters’ latest, phenomenal release, Three Days with the Long Moon, a collection that author Kathleen Flenniken called “as intimate as love letters.” We agree, and we think you will too.


Penitentiary

Remembering backwards, the dizzy recourse
of the year ahead, the one in which you said—you will say—
Remember. The mercy that was last year.

The story of her ankles, the phonograph
playing, the icy stops, fingers wringing,
ankles a cross message, an uncontrolled story.

Advertising the self, the self in one’s hands,
the year an iceberg on which a bell is set backwards,
the self a story of a clapper stopped

against the interior of a yoke. No mercy
at your hands, no rings, no touch uncontrolled.
Working at the backwards grasp, no moment

to finish. Between mercy and mercy
and control, between grasping and control,
between Tell me a story and Touch my hands.

The backward of mercy, the back word of mercy
likely is, will be, if you demand it, Remember.
Remember. The phonograph plays it, counter-clock.


Desire

A flaccid arm under the palm of desire
makes a game of hiding in itself
and becomes the bitter wealth of desire

Marriages renew on working promises
held up to cardboard and concrete,
they shine still in the wedding-glass of desire

She kisses an unspent cheek, he touches
her one good breast with his mind
after their long walk in the ruins of desire

The sweetness of all that didn’t happen
on their wedding night melts
when at last they try to snatch at desire

You’re on the threshold of the flash
that inflames old wives, but they won’t
trade in their little secrets of desire

A funnel of smoke, a nib of cocoa
on her lip, spent spirits inside his breath
concoct a likely story of desire

You remember the stones, the shell inside
your pocket, Adrian, the storm that threw
sands against the cottage window of desire


14 Lines on the Nature of Formality

When your friend addressed you as Dear
Heart last morning and Madame
Architect today. As when there are
no egg cups, and you must crack
the soft-boiled eggs into the plate. As when
your brother hands you his razor to shave
your legs, and the key to the wind-up
clock goes missing for lack of winding

and a couple of moves, and as when
in fact the bread has been tossed from the
cupboard but so the chocolate remains.
As when the nylons never leave the drawer.
As when your shoes are all flat ones,
dear heart, your shoes are all flat ones.


Here to Behave

for Peggy

The wolf’s a predator like any
other, so the storyteller says.
Dreaming we don wolf’s
clothes, make ourselves incomp-
rehensible and singular, then
waken, the same sheep.
Dawn brings armistice, recon-
ciliation till the next game
of dusk. Dawn sugar on fingers,
salt behind teeth. Sliced sun in
December fog, browned leaf
on the green bud. Juice of
grapefruit. Stone walk, birds
peck for what they peck. Fires
smoke themselves in the stacks,
walking sticks name us, good,
propels up the worst of the hills.

Yet the night, before the longest moon
rising, utter black. Our greatest friend.


Learn more about Adrian Koesters at adriankoesters.com. Three Days with the Long Moon, and Koesters’ first release with BrickHouse Books, Many Parishes, are available now at online retailers.

October Excerpts: What the Waking See by J. Tarwood

Cover Image: Two people in marriage attire walk down a street crowded with houses. They walk away from us. TEXT: WHAT THE WAKING SEE, New and Selected Poems by J. Tarwood

Greetings, BHB friends and family! Time for another monthly edition of our featured excerpts! This month, we’re reading poetry from J. Tarwood‘s latest BHB release, What the Waking See.


AUTHENTICITY

When he says he understands
how we feel, he means,
shut up and grieve, girl, for me!

So many props we need to be
ourselves, brown hair rivering
an eye. cheeks a brisk shine,
heels rocketing, rings blessing—
all the little sisters inhaling labor
to make one lovely enough
to step out the door.

Whatever he says, he wants
a mask, as do we. Stay
grateful with coffee in hand,
morning reddening shade, alone
as granite in a dune.
He’ll be outlasted beautifully,

understanding nothing.

AESTHETICS IN SKOPJE

I
Reason flowers
beautifying necessity,
most enchanting of knots.

II
The ugly love the beautiful.
Of course. Wisely,
the beautiful learn
to love the ugly.
Who else would die for them?

III
Light’s late in winter.
Hand in hand, so many
furred lovelies, laughing
in morning mist, every kiss
tightening the knot.


What the Waking See is available now at online retailers

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September Excerpts: The Light of the Sun Become Sea by Peter Weltner

Welcome back to another edition of BrickHouse Books’ Featured Excerpts!  Last month, we delved into John C. McLucas’ debut novel, Dialogues on the Beach!  This month, we’re heading into the world of poetry with Peter Weltner!

The Light of the Sun Become Sea is Weltner’s latest release with BrickHouse Books. Accomplished poet Joseph Stroud wrote of this collection:

. . .These poems. . .meld the past and the present, the personal and the historical, Classicism and Romanticism, myth and the quotidian, Eros and Thanatos. These poems look directly at the world. They don’t flinch in the face of loss and death. They strive for a transcendence where “All’s right. All’s water. All’s paradise shimmering.”

Join us as we explore the beautiful language of this collection, with three excerpts hand-selected by Weltner himself!


from “Santiago”

5.

All passion’s a chant before sunrise, what is
real, unstoppable, that sanctifies the world,
makes it holier, a man abandoned, his
hopes denied him, mine by women that hurled

you from me. I followed your route. I watched
you walking not to get away, but to be
less ruined, to return some day, touched
by my hands, my lips, your wanting to see

more clearly the rooms we might dwell in, poorer
but more free, seeking to renew what’s below
you, what you’d seen in water flowing under
the bridge, enough rubble there to restore Santiago.


from “The Way Open to Other Ways”

3.

So far north, June shocks as in a Russian
novel. First winter thaws in shadows. Raw
mud turns grass’s emerald. Then the land
flares into the Chinese colors I saw

as the sun shone through crane-white clouds
on an ancient silkscreen, a monk, plain,
hog-fat, sucking plums, making no sounds,
quieter than lotus on the mountain. Plums stain

his robe wine-red. A boat waits by his hut.
In farewell, he embraces the farmer who hoes
his beds, its flowers topaz, agate.
If beauty’s found in decay, winter snows,

in labor, the raked-over loam, the ice-
laden gates, then summer’s paradisal. By stone
walls and cliffs, his skiff flows. Rice
fills his bowl. Peace comes to everyone.


from “Testament”

3.

The great good place of the world
is tremulous with light:
a forest of vines and brush,
its pathless ways through loblolly stands,
the flocks of birds encircling a lake,
the geese diving,
each blessing the water,
as ivy, trees sanctify the words
you use, offering you
their meaning, their eloquence.

A sun shines through you
as through a thick fog
that settles over the morning hours
of the city you grew up in, street sounds, songs,
what no one’s ever done with,
the stories they know of glory,
a cooling rain in June,
wet sidewalks, brownstones,
you, a dialogue between dawn and mist,
the light of the sun become sea.


To learn more about Peter Weltner and his works, visit Peter’s BHB Profile Page.

The Light of the Sun Become Sea is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Itasca Books.

Featured Prose – August – Excerpt from John C. McLucas’ Dialogues on the Beach

Greetings, BHB friends and family!

Today begins a new trend here at BrickHouse Books.  Every month, we’ll be bringing you excerpts of work from the BHB family, and what better way to kick it off than by celebrating our upcoming release, John C. McLucas’ debut novel, Dialogues on the Beach?

Dialogues on the Beach follows Jim, who’s been in love with his best friend, Tony, for years.  When Tony marries Rachel, Jim finds in her another best friend, but he can’t shake his unrequited feelings for Tony.  That is, until he meets Joe while vacationing at Rehoboth Beach.

This month’s excerpt begins at the start of Jim’s tale, way back in the ’70s.


Chapter 1 – 1970-1993 – College, Yale Graduate School, & home in Baltimore

Tony’s wife Rachel and I had become good friends over time, in spite of the obvious: I was in love with Tony, my best friend at college, for years. Initially this was supposed to be a profound secret. Of course Walter caught on, virtually from the moment he and I became roommates in the middle of freshman year. Walter’s gay radar was unmatched. No one else would have thought to call it love, though everyone knew that Tony and I were some sort of pair. Friends even joked about our being married. We were always together. If Tony or I was away for a weekend, the other got condolence calls, thoughtful invitations, kind distractions, from all over campus. Professors would give us each other’s papers if one of us wasn’t there when assignments were returned. I knew Tony’s moods, his early-morning look and the look in class that said he knew the answer and the one that said he didn’t. He knew me well, certainly. He was the all-time master of the butch straight-man bead-read: “I have my pride,” I said once, and he said, “And several other people’s too.”

There was a girlfriend. I knew that, but at first I didn’t worry about it much. Eventually, without rancor, that bond would succumb to distance and time. One day, our daily closeness, the shared books and midnight confidences, would become irreversible, and everyone would suddenly know that I came first with Tony.

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Book Review for BhB Director’s The White Rail

whiterailBlog Chamber Four has recently reviewed BrickHouse Books’ Director Clarinda Harriss’ book The White Rail in their recent literary reviews. Filled with details, analysis, and a strong summary, reviewer Charles Rammelkamp assess The White Rail with great enthusiasm and understanding of the novel.

Below is an excerpt from Rammelkamp’s review:

Reading Clarinda Harriss’s fiction is like reading another version of Laura Lippman’s and Anne Tyler’s Baltimores mixed up together, from the genteel dilapidation of old Baltimore to the dangerous underbelly of the city’s streets. The White Rail is a slender volume, precious as a poetry collection, consisting of six stories, all set in Baltimore or nearby…

To read the full review go here and make sure to check out Chamber Four and their other literary reviews!

Master List of Finalists for National Book Awards

The National Book Awards are almost like the Emmys or Oscars for the book lovers out there. Yes, we will bet on who we think will win for the categories (Fiction, Non-fiction, Young People,  and Poetry). Yes, we make huge announcements who wins what and whether it was well deserved. While it might not be a Twitter trending topic nation wide, it’s important in the literary world. And this past Wednesday, October 16th, the finalists were announced. Now  we’ll scramble to read all the books and try to figure out who will win.

Each book and full review can be found on Amazon.

Fiction:

flamethrower1.  Rachel Kushner for The Flamethrowers (Scribner)

The Flamethrowers is an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist. At its center is Kushner’s brilliantly realized protagonist, a young woman on the verge. Thrilling and fearless, this is a major American novel from a writer of spectacular talent and imagination.”

lowland

2. Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland (Knopf)

“Masterly suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate, The Lowland is a work of great beauty and complex emotion; an engrossing family saga and a story steeped in history that spans generations and geographies with seamless authenticity. It is Jhumpa Lahiri at the height of her considerable powers.”

thegood

3. James McBride for The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead)

“An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.”

bleedingedge

4. Thomas Pynchon for Bleeding Edge (Penguin Press)

“If not here at the end of history, when? If not Pynchon, who? Reading Bleeding Edge, tearing up at the beauty of its sadness or the punches of its hilarity, you may realize it as the 9/11 novel you never knew you needed… a necessary novel and one that literary history has been waiting for.” -Slate.com

tenthofdecember

5. George Saunders for Tenth of December (Random House)

“Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should ‘prepare us for tenderness.'”

Non-fiction:

jilllepore

1. Jill Lepore for Book of Ages (Knopf)

“To stare at these siblings is to stare at sun and moon. But in Jill Lepore’s meticulously constructed biography, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, recently placed on the long list of nominees for the National Book Award in nonfiction, this moon casts a beguiling glow….Consistently first rate.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

hiterlsfuries

2. Wendy Lower for Hitler’s Furies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“Hitler’s Furies builds a fascinating and convincing picture of a morally “lost generation” of young women, born into a defeated, tumultuous post–World War I Germany, and then swept up in the nationalistic fervor of the Nazi movement—a twisted political awakening that turned to genocide…..Hitler’s Furies will challenge our deepest beliefs: genocide is women’s business too, and the evidence can be hidden for seventy years.”

theunpacking

3. George Packer for The Unwinding (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation. Packer’s novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to date.”

internalenemy

4. Alan Taylor for The Internal Enemy (Norton)

“This searing story of slavery and freedom in the Chesapeake by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian reveals the pivot in the nation’s path between the founding and civil war.”

goingclear

5. Lawrence Wright for Going Clear (Knopf)

“In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.”

Young People’s Literature:

truescouts

1. Kathi Appelt for The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Atheneum)

“Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt presents a story of care and conservation, funny as all get out and ripe for reading aloud.”

thingaboutluck

2. Cynthia Kadohata for The Thing About Luck (Atheneum)

“There is bad luck, good luck, and making your own luck—which is exactly what Summer must do to save her family in this novel from Newbery Medalist Cynthia Kadohata.”

farfaraway

3. Tom McNeal for Far Far Away (Knopf)

“Veteran writer Tom McNeal has crafted a young adult novel at once grim(m) and hopeful, full of twists, and perfect for fans of contemporary fairy tales like Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Holly Black’s Doll Bones. The recipient of five starred reviews, Publishers Weekly called Far Far Away ‘inventive and deeply poignant.'”

Picture Me Gone

4. Meg Rosoff for Picture Me Gone (Putnam)

“Printz Award-winning author Meg Rosoff’s latest novel is a gorgeous and unforgettable page-turner about the relationship between parents and children, love and loss.”

boxers

5. Gene Luen Yang for Boxers & Saints (First Second)

“One of the greatest comics storytellers alive brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing new work.”

Poetry:

Frank Bidart for “Metaphysical Dog” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)1.  Frank Bidart for Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

“A vital, searching new collection from one of finest American poets at work today.”

stay, illusion

2. Lucie Brock-Broido for Stay, Illusion (Knopf)

Stay, Illusion, the much-anticipated volume of poems by Lucie Brock-Broido, illuminates the broken but beautiful world she inhabits. Her poems are lit with magic and stark with truth: whether they speak from the imagined dwelling of her “Abandonarium,” or from habitats where animals are farmed and harmed “humanely,” or even from the surreal confines of death row, they find a voice like no other—dazzling, intimate, startling, heartbreaking.”

the big smoke

3. Adrian Matejka for The Big Smoke (Penguin)

“Long listed for the 2013 National Book Award in Poetry—a new collection that examines the myth and history of the prizefighter Jack Johnson.”

Black Aperture

4. Matt Rasmussen for Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press)

“In his moving debut collection, Matt Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother’s suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor.”

Mary Szybist for “Incarnadine” (Graywolf Press)

5. Mary Szybist for Incarnadine (Graywolf Press)

“In Incarnadine, Mary Szybist restlessly seeks out places where meaning might take on new color.”

Only United States citizens are eligible for the award which are administered by the National Book Foundation. The award ceremony is November 20 where we’ll learn who won what.

Do you have any favorites? What book do you think will win each category?

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